LAUSD To Trump: Stay Away From Our Kids And Off Our Campuses
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted on Tuesday to reaffirm its campuses as safe zones for undocumented students. The resolution stipulates that school staff will bar federal immigration agents from entering a campus without the approval of the superintendent or the district's lawyers.
This resolution is a reiteration of a similar one that was voted in back in February. The guidelines are largely the same. But, according to LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer, Tuesday's resolution clarifies language to further protect papers and documents that pertain to the students. "This may end up being critical," Zimmer told LAist. "Earlier this year, we defined the physical and instructional safety of our campuses. But the resolution last night, I would argue, makes it more clear that the records of our children and employees—anything that may identify certain things—will be safe too."
Certainly, Tuesday's vote was a direct response to comments made by the President-elect before and after the election. In a broadcast of 60 Minutes on Sunday, Donald Trump told journalist Lesley Stahl that he intends to immediately deport somewhere between 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants. While he added that the focus will be on "gang members" and "people with criminal records," the anxiety caused from his remarks has not been mitigated. On Monday, hundreds of high school students across L.A. staged a walk-out to protest the election of Trump.
"It's important to look at the rhetoric the President-elect chose to use during the election, and we have no reason to believe he doesn't mean what he said. It's heightened anxiety among our students and our parents,"said Zimmer. "But, of course, that fear was already present, even before the election."
Zimmer says that the resolutions have not yet been put to the test, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have not yet attempted to enter school campuses. In a 2011 memorandum, ICE said that the agency's policy is that "enforcement actions do not occur at nor are focused on sensitive locations such as schools and churches." While the threat of ICE may not be imminent on school campuses, Zimmer says that parts of the resolution have been in play. He says that one component of the resolutions is a call to enlighten campuses on the sensitive subjects surrounding a student's undocumented status. "There are support systems in place, for families at risk, for families facing deportation. We're educating our educators about the subject," said Zimmer.
The resolutions do allow for a (limited) number of scenarios in which federal agents may be let onto campus. One such scenario could be a human trafficking investigation, or a case in which public safety is under imminent threat. But Zimmer reiterates that the LAUSD's main concern is the safety of its students.
"We don't take anything for granted. Since the morning of November 9, and before that, our role is to ensure that our children know that we love and believe in them. And we're telling them that we'll protect them against any aggression by federal authorities that may take place at school sites," said Zimmer.
The LAUSD enrolls more than 640,000 students at over 900 schools and 187 public charter schools. In 2011, Latinos made up about 73% of the school district's student population.